More signs point to early election

Wed Aug 27, 2008 12:16pm EDT
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Prime Minister Stephen Harper gave fresh signs on Wednesday of triggering a general election soon.

Governor General Michaelle Jean, who would formally be responsible for any election call, was asked to cancel her trip to China to represent Canada on September 6 at the Paralympic Games in Beijing.

"It is recommended that it is prudent for the governor-general to be in the country given the current political climate," Harper's press secretary, Carolyn Stewart-Olsen, said.

If Harper were to seek the dissolution of Parliament and a new election, he would visit the governor general at her residence at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

Jean represents Canada's head of state, Queen Elizabeth, and acts on the advice of the prime minister.

As well, Harper plans to meet with opposition New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton on Saturday to discuss whether there is any common ground to continue with the current session of Parliament.

The Conservative government was elected in January 2006 with a minority of seats in Parliament, and needs the support of at least one of the three opposition parties to pass legislation and remain in power.

Harper has been complaining that legislation is increasingly being blocked and has asked for meetings with the opposition to see if there is any prospect for consensus or whether it is better to seek a fresh electoral mandate.   Continued...

<p>Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper waves to a baby 200 km (124 miles) north of the Arctic Circle in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, August 26, 2008. REUTERS/Todd Korol</p>